It all happened Thursday afternoon in the West Chester library: Janna Wilson and the Legionella bacteria shared the same room. After eight campus buildings were discovered to have had extremely high levels of the Legionella bacteria, specialists started questioning if other employees or students had been infected with the potentially lethal virus.
Janna Wilson stated that she is not worried, even though an employee was found to have contracted the disease. Specialists suggest that the employee might have made contact with the virus in another location. Paul Edelstein, director of the clinical microbiology lab at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania confirms that a single case is no reason for people to worry about the incident too much.
The Legionella bacteria is responsible for Legionnaire’s disease. It is a form of pneumonia that can be lethal. The virus grows in water and can easily get in contact with the human body via mist, water drops and sometimes fountains or air-conditioning systems.
The main reason why the authorities are not worried about the incident is because the disease report and analysis were stretched over a long period of time. The infected employee was reported sick on the 6th of July, tests were only started on the 9th and the results only came back on July 22nd. While the campus was found to have contained the virus, it was confirmed weeks later.
“It wasn’t as if people were particularly at risk.”
This is what Pam Sheridan, university spokeswoman, declared after the institution had been informed about the incident. Staff was unable to speak with the sick employee. An alert e-mail was sent to rest of the campus for security measures.
Legionnaire’s disease was first discovered in 1977 by scientists who were studying an event that occurred in 1976. An epidemic outbreak took place at the Philadelphia Bellevue Stratford hotel, which had been hosting a state convention for the American Legion. Approximately 200 people were infected that day and 29 died.
Scientists concluded that the Legionella bacterium, which was found in the air-conditioning system, was responsible for the sickening and death of so many. Yet the bacteria is not contagious. It only sickens people in particular conditions. It is most dangerous during summer, in places where humidity level is very high.
So remember not to expose yourself too much to air-conditioning and humidity, or if you do, make sure that these environments are out of harm’s way.
Photo Credits marshenvironmental.co.uk